Radiohead have grown a great deal over their 30 years in the limelight. They first burst into our consciousnesses in 1993 with their debut album Pablo Honey, an album that is seen by most fans as a formative LP that is otherwise a bit of a throwaway despite its stratospheric hit ‘Creep’. Personally, I tend to feel that the album isn’t often given its due attention because of the overshadowing brilliance of their subsequent career over the rest of the 1990s and beyond.
Pablo Honey presents an important stage in Radiohead’s development; the group were still only in their early-to-mid-20s when recording the album and so it shows signs of their lacking experience and maturity while revealing a smorgasbord of ideas that can be seen as a launchpad from which they grew impressively.
Like any group of youngsters, they enjoyed their fair share of remnant adolescent humour and innuendo. Many of the ideas for the first album had been adapted from work they had written when they were still at school nearly ten years prior, a time when the group was known as ‘On A Friday’. The earliest penned song that appeared on Pablo Honey was ‘Stop Whispering’. However, despite being the earliest, ‘Stop Whispering’ wasn’t the least mature of the group’s songs.
When the band of “mothers’ boys” recorded the music for their debut album, their families were, for the most part, immensely proud of their sons. The lucky mother of both Jonny and Colin Greenwood was always happy to hear about how her sons were getting on in their band. Unfortunately for her, the brothers were particularly cheeky and would take great pleasure in teasing their staid mother by playing up their supposed rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle.
“Jonathan often teases her about all the drug benders he goes on,” Colin said in a 1995 interview with Select. “And she sits there saying, ‘Oh yes? How nice, dear.’ It was funny, when we first got signed, she wouldn’t tell our grandfather what we were doing because she thought it’d finish him off.” Despite her doubts about their lifestyles, she was proud of them and gave their debut album a spin from time to time. “She is quite proud of us, I suppose,” Jonny said. “Her favourite song on the first LP was ‘Thinking About You’, which has the line ‘I’m playing with myself’. She had no idea it was about wanking.”
It really is quite baffling to see how far the group, who wrote songs about masturbation and had members initially faking their musical abilities, came in just a few short years.
Listen to ‘Thinking About You’ from Radiohead’s Pablo Honey below.